Give others as much benefit of doubt as we give to ourselves

If we oversleep, we often justify, “I was tired.” But if someone we don’t like oversleeps, we label them as “lazy.” If we overeat, we were just hungry. If someone we dislike overeats, they become gluttons. When we extrapolate from others’ actions to their intentions based on our preconceptions about them, we become judgmental.

How can we stop ascribing negative labels to others? By giving them as much benefit of doubt as we would like them to give us if the roles were reversed. If we were oversleeping, would we want them to label us negatively? Certainly not. Then, why shouldn’t we do unto them as we would want them to do unto us?

Does giving others the benefit of doubt mean condoning their wrongdoings? No, it just means not assuming their doings are wrong. It means seeking understanding instead of labeling.

For giving others the benefit of doubt, Gita wisdom provides us a powerful intellectual boost – the insight that Krishna has given us the benefit of doubt, and has given it for the many lifetimes when we have turned away from him while chasing worldly pleasures. Despite our unrelenting materialism, he doesn’t label us spiritually irredeemable and abandon us. He stays in our heart, providing us spiritual opportunities externally and spiritual promptings internally, patiently waiting for us to turn towards him.

To be devoted to God means to become godly. In our context of faultfinding, godliness means giving others the benefit of doubt, as God has given us. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (16.02) states that the godly are averse to faultfinding.

When we train ourselves to suspend judgment, we will free ourselves from much negativity both internally and externally: internally because we will stop dwelling on others’ faults, and externally because our relationships with them will become warmer.

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